Back in 2016, Nelson Agholor was struggling mightily in his second NFL season and the pressure of being a first-round pick was getting to him.
His disastrous game against the Seahawks on Nov. 20 was the final straw. Doug Pederson finally benched him the next week.
But it wasn’t a punishment. It was a chance for Agholor to gain a new perspective, reset and get out of his head. The next year, Agholor was a major part of the Eagles’ Super Bowl season.
It’s hard not to think about that situation right now.
Because the similarities between Agholor then and Jalen Reagor now are striking. Agholor was the 20th pick in the 2015 draft, Reagor was the 21st pick in the 2020 draft. Just like Agholor, Reagor has been an abject disappointment through this point in his career. And just like Agholor, Reagor is playing for a first-year head coach in Year 2.
But that’s apparently where the similarity is going to end.
Nick Sirianni on Monday said he hasn’t even considered benching Reagor.
“I have not thought about that and not thought through that,” Sirianni said, “because I don't think that's in the best interest of the team. Because I think Jalen Reagor gives us the best chance to win.”
At times, Reagor has shown glimpses of the explosion and athleticism that made him a first-round pick but he hasn’t come close to living up to that draft status. That was very similar with Agholor but at least the Eagles were eventually able to get something out of him.
It’s amazing how identical their early careers are. Just look at a comparison of Agholor’s stats before he was benched in 2016 and Reagor’s stats right now in his career:
Agholor before his benching: 23 games, 50 catches, 547 yards, 2 touchdowns
Reagor to this point in his career: 23 games, 56 catches, 597 yards, 3 touchdowns
And just like Agholor’s game against the Seahawks in 2016, Reagor is coming off a complete disaster against the Giants on Sunday, when he dropped two passes, either of which could have given the Eagles a big win.
The one difference here might be how Reagor is handling the pressure — or at least how transparent he is about it.
Because back in 2016, Agholor was pretty up front about his mental struggles. Reagor on Sunday spoke to reporters after the loss and while he was upset about missing the plays, taking ownership for the drops, he didn’t seem to be overwhelmed.
Reagor was asked if he feels pressure to live up to being a first-round pick.
“No, not really,” he said. “It just depends on what you’re talking about, but when it comes to living up to something, no.”
Sirianni explained on Monday that the Eagles played all five wide receivers on Sunday, including the three starters and J.J. Arcege-Whiteside and Greg Ward. So benching Reagor would leave them one short.
It certainly doesn’t seem like benching Reagor should be out of the question. But apparently it is.
So the Eagles just have to hope the 22-year-old can turn things around on his own.
“Just keep going,” he said on Sunday. “I mean, I had some catches, so I just have to keep going and not get down on myself.”
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